Archive for January, 2013

Michael Adams is right about keeping Sanford Stadium open

Michael Adams opposes closing the west end of Sanford Stadium. (Associated Press)

Michael Adams opposes closing the west end of Sanford Stadium. (Associated Press)

I know the knee-jerk reaction among many Bulldogs fans is to ridicule or dismiss any statement having to do with sports coming from Michael Adams, but I find myself very much in agreement with something the outgoing UGA president said last week in his final State of the University speech.

Said Adams, who steps down as president June 30:

“I will close this item with a plea. The next, and probably last time, that Sanford Stadium is expanded, it should be done on the east end, taking the capacity to 102,000-104,000, which is frankly all that the roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure can handle.

“The west end should remain open. The visible interconnection with and view of the central campus is more than just a pretty scene — it is a powerful statement about the appropriate place of athletics at a great public university.

“Despite the logistical challenges it poses, I am glad that our stadium is …

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50th anniversary memories of the Steg: Jake Scott, Elton John and more!

A vintage shot of the Coliseum before its recent renovation. (University of Georgia)

A vintage shot of the Coliseum before its recent renovation. (University of Georgia)

What do Elton John, Jake Scott, the Peace Corps and Athens High School have in common?

They all reside in my five decades of memories of what’s now known as Stegeman Coliseum, the distinctive structure that has dominated UGA’s Ag Hill and loomed large in the lives of Athenians since my days at David C. Barrow Elementary School across the street.

Erected starting in 1962, primarily to play host to cattle shows, rodeos and basketball games (the agricultural purpose finally having been abandoned a few years ago), what originally was called the Georgia Coliseum has been an intrinsic part of my life ever since.

I won a second-place ribbon on the floor of the Coliseum as part of the Georgia State Science Fair. I had my first real date with a girl there (back when my Dad still had to drive us because I didn’t yet have a license). Like many Athens kids I had driver’s education lessons in the Coliseum …

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What’s on Mark Richt’s to-do list for 2013 Dawgs?

Who's going to help Garrison Smith on the defensive line? (Associated Press)

Who's going to help Garrison Smith on the defensive line? (Associated Press)

It’s pretty obvious that what’s driving all those very early preseason Top 10 rankings for Mark Richt’s 2013 Bulldogs is the return of almost the entire starting lineup of the explosive, productive offense led by veteran quarterback Aaron Murray.

It’s just as clear that what’s tempering those expectations, keeping Georgia from being an outright pick to battle Alabama again for a spot in the BCS title game, is the almost complete rebuilding job that must be done on defense after losing a dozen players to graduation and early departure for the NFL.

So finding a way to fill the void left by Jarvis Jones, Alec Ogletree and company is Job One for the Georgia coaching staff this offseason, particularly replacing the big beef to help Garrison Smith up front and finding the right combination in the secondary.

Yes, as Richt has noted, there is a lot of talent “waiting in the wings.” The big question, though, …

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Savoring favorite memories from 50 years at Stegeman Coliseum!

stegeman anniversaryThe 50th anniversary of the opening of UGA’s Stegeman Coliseum won’t take place until Feb. 22 next year. However, since the basketball Dogs are currently playing their 50th season in the venue, the commemoration already is under way at Georgiadogs.com, where fans are voting to select the top moment in the arena’s history.

For those of us who grew up in the Five Points area of Athens, attended David C. Barrow Elementary School across the street and watched the structure that many thought looked like a flying saucer being built starting in 1962, this is a big deal.

The history of the multi-purpose facility originally known as the Georgia Coliseum is so intertwined with my own family history that I take personal offense when I hear clueless fans badmouth the arena and claim that the Bulldogs will never have a top-notch basketball program as long as they’re playing in “the Stegesaurus.”

Frankly, I think many of the people who talk that way likely haven’t visited Stegeman in years, …

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Malcome’s departure leaves little depth behind Gurshall

Ken Malcome is leaving Athens in search of more playing time. (Associated Press)

Ken Malcome is leaving Athens in search of more playing time. (Associated Press)

Poor Ken Malcome.

Stalled behind Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall on Georgia’s tailback depth chart, he announced Wednesday he was leaving UGA in search of more playing time, and even then he couldn’t grab the college football media spotlight amid all the jokes about Manti Te’o’s imaginary dead girlfriend and reports that the Philadelphia Eagles might try to lure Todd Grantham back to the NFL.

Of course, Malcome’s decision to transfer from Georgia wasn’t at all surprising. He’d quit the program once before early on, and he’d been griping publicly since late in the season about the number of carries he was getting in mop-up duty.

Most UGA fans hearing the news of his departure didn’t worry about it a lot. They understood why “Boo,” who carried the ball 57 times last season for 274 yards (averaging 4.8 yards) and two touchdowns, felt he had to leave, wishing him well. As Aaron Murray’s T-shirt said …

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Fan talk: What can the Dawgs do with all those quarterbacks?

Hutson Mason should see more playing time than Georgia's other backups did in 2012. (University of Georgia)

Hutson Mason should see more playing time than Georgia's other backups did in 2012. (University of Georgia)

It’s time to catch up on some of the Junkyard Mail. …

Michael Ruffin writes: Hey Bill, How do you think [Aaron] Murray’s decision to stay at UGA affects the other quarterbacks on the team? I kind of figured [Hutson] Mason might be looking forward to being the starter for two years instead of one. And what about [Christian] LeMay and [Parker] Welch … and others coming in?

Murray returning was the best news Mark Richt could have gotten for the 2013 season. He’s a veteran leader on an explosive, prolific offense, and I think he showed in the Capital One Bowl that he’s turned the corner on stepping up in big games. Shrugging off the two early interceptions to have a record day passing was big for Murray’s future. Richt summed up the situation pretty well this week: “Hutson’s to the point where he certainly knows what to do. He’s ready for the next step, which is playing …

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Will the 2013 Dawgs pick up where they left off?

The return of Aaron Murray is a big factor in the lofty projections for the 2013 Bulldogs. (Associated Press)

The return of Aaron Murray is a big factor in the lofty projections for the 2013 Bulldogs. (Associated Press)

Georgia will open the 2013 football season amid a major rebuilding of its defensive unit while also facing a much more difficult schedule front-loaded with ranked opponents.

And yet that hasn’t dissuaded most of the college football observers previewing the 2013 Top 25 from seeing the Dogs picking up pretty much where they left off this season — a Top 10 or even a Top 5 team.

I think you can safely say that Aaron Murray’s decision to return for his senior season leading a prolific, veteran offense that boasts Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall at tailback has a lot to do with that.

Our own Mark Bradley pegged Georgia as No. 5 in his early Top 25. But, as he noted, with the Dogs opening at Clemson and then playing South Carolina and LSU in two of their next three games, they could either play themselves out of the To 25 by the end of September or mark themselves as the …

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Nick Saban remembers Bama’s close escape from the Dogs

sec-logo-For a Georgia fan, it was kind of tough watching Alabama dismantle the myth of the Notre Dame return to glory in the BCS title game, knowing that it should have been the Bulldogs continuing the SEC’s dominance in the national championship.

But the Tide did it in impressive fashion and deserve all the accolades being heaped on them.

If there’s any solace for the Bulldog Nation, it’s in knowing that Mark Richt’s team was a much bigger challenge for Bama than were the Irish.

Indirectly making that point was Alabama’s head coach. In his postgame interview with the “Gameday” gang, Nick Saban was talking about how tough it was for Bama to repeat as BCS champs, and he noted, “Georgia was five yards from being here tonight.”

I’m not generally a Saban fan, but I thought that showed a lot of class. And it was an acknowledgement of just how good the 2012 Dawgs were.

So, for now, we’ll put aside our worries about recruiting against Saban and fretting over the establishment of a new …

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Leaving early might not be the best choice for Geathers, Murray (Updated)

Kwame Geathers made this tackle but too often got pushed around against Nebraska. (Associated Press)

Kwame Geathers made this tackle but too often got pushed around against Nebraska. (Associated Press)

A few bowl week observations …

So far, we know that Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones, the two members of Mark Richt’s 2012 team considered most likely to leave early, are indeed cutting their UGA playing careers short.

Still to be heard from: nose guard Kwame Geathers and quarterback Aaron Murray.

Retaining one or both would be a big plus for the Dawgs.

Geathers, of course, has always been considered unlikely to return for his senior year, though a lot of college football observers feel he could benefit greatly from another year in Athens. After watching Geathers, who had one solo tackle and two assists, get pushed around by offensive linemen 50 pounds lighter than him in the Capital One Bowl, I’m inclined to agree.

Still, I’ll be suprised if he stays.

Aaron Murray has to decide which he'd rather do next year: Break a bunch of records or hold a clipboard. (Associated Press)

Aaron Murray has to decide which he'd rather do next year: Break a bunch of records or hold a clipboard. (Associated Press)

As …

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If that was Murray’s farewell game for the Dawgs, he goes out in style

Aaron Murray hoists the MVP award at the Capital One Bowl. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Aaron Murray hoists the MVP award at the Capital One Bowl. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

If Aaron Murray does decide to leave early for the NFL, his performance in Tuesday’s Capital One Bowl seems to perfectly encapsulate his career at Georgia.

There was the shaky start that saw him throw a couple of interceptions, one resulting in a Nebraska touchdown, and then a record-setting day passing in which the Georgia junior quarterback threw five touchdown passes (and what should have been a sixth) in leading the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind victory.

And all of that against the nation’s top-rated pass defense!

Particularly impressive in his Capital One MVP performance was the 24-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter where Murray, scrambling to his right, managed to find back Keith Marshall down near the corner of the end zone and delivered a superb pass that Marshall did a great job of snatching out of the air. With the PAT, that put Georgia ahead 38-31 on a day …

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